just-a-few-bites Recipes

gougères + stuffed mushrooms

My in-laws had a cocktail party on Saturday night and in case you are new here, what this meant was that there was so much food, just the of plating of the appetizers took four people nearly an hour. (It also means that although there was much conversation and liveliness, I captured none of it. “Alex, what are they laughing at?” “He told a joke.” “What was it?” “It was funny.” “Thanks.”)

only half the spread

caviar trilogy

This would be but half the magnificent spread, not including the Cheese Table, which was not, mind you, a slew of cut-your-own cheese wedges and loose grapes but actual cheese-showcasing appetizers.

goat cheese, pesto, tomato terrine

parmesan black-pepper biscotti

Of course, don’t be fooled by the small bites; there was still a main course. (I was too stuffed to get near it, but I hear the apple and stuffing-stuffed turkey was delicious.)

main course

Nope, nobody does anything small around there, the guests included. The guest who offered to bring some fruit for dessert brought so much, it needed to be carried in a box that once housed a case of champagne, and there was so much leftover, Alex and I currently have a giant salad bowl filled with fruit in the kitchen (thank you!) and another in the fridge.

But, the Grand Finale, the Dessert to End All Desserts, was from the guest who offered to make a Russian Napoleon, not very different from the ones we are used to except that it’s covered in a lovely crumble of pasty. But, she didn’t just bring this; she brought a centerpiece. The top layer was comprised of lady fingers swaddled in a raspberry cream frosting — each slice of it resembled gorgeous cobblestones — and topped with not just assorted candies, but a white chocolate basket she had crafted from her own mold. We remain awestruck.

russian napoleon

I brought my share of contributions, too: truffles, parmesan biscotti, pecan bars (yup, we still have some in the freezer, can we say “my god, please make a half-recipe next time?”), gougeres and stuffed mushrooms.

gougeres, a wee deflated

I made gougères the first time this past summer, and we instantly fell in love. I can’t imagine anything more lovely to go with wine than a choux pastry (the type you would make eclairs or cream puffs with) plus two cups of shredded cheese. I had a little more success the first time, namely because I got lazy this time and shredded the cheese in the food processor, which makes lovely confetti-like pieces, perfect for latkes, a little heavy for something you hope to be eventually light and air-like. Hand-shredding on a box grater seems to be the name of the game with cheese puffs.

Last time, I used a mix of cave-aged gruyere (my favorite) and parmesan but as my mother brought me a wedge of Jarlsberg at Hanukah so big, if you dropped it you might break a toe, this time I replaced a cup of the gruyere with it. No matter, the flavor was just as delicious.

jacques pepin's gougères

One more “I’d do differently next time”: In a rare use of gray salt, I sprinkled the tops of the puffs with it right before baking. The first time I did this, we ate them right away and it was dreamy and crisp. This time, we ate them the next day and as I should have already learned by now, anything salt-topped left for a day gets a little damp on the outside and drained of moisture on the inside. Next time, if there will be a day between baking an eating, I’ll skip the salt on top.

stuffed mushrooms, nearly baked

After I told him I liked my usual stuffed mushroom recipe, but was in the mood for something less earnest and healthful, my bacon and cheese-loving husband found this sinful delight on Epicurious. The filling is so good, it takes restraint not to eat it by the spoonful, so consider yourself warned.

Gougères
Jacques Pépin, Food & Wine

1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese (Emmenthaler or Gruyere)
Coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher salt) to sprinkle on top

Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute to dry the mixture a bit. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds.

Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until well mixed. Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl, and let cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese, then add the remainder and all the Swiss cheese to the choux paste. Stir just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougère, spacing them about 2-inches apart on the sheet. Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt and a little of the reserved Parmesan cheese on each gougère. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature with drinks.

Roasted Mushrooms Stuffed With Feta, Spinach and Bacon
Bon Appetit, October 2001

Makes about 48

8 ounces bacon slices
1 cup chopped onion
1 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 3/4 pounds button mushrooms (about 48; each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), stemmed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Coarsely crumble bacon. Discard all but 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons bacon fat (adding olive oil if necessary to equal that amount).

Heat 2 teaspoons reserved bacon fat in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and cool; mix in bacon, spinach, feta, cream cheese, and crushed red pepper. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper.

Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Toss mushrooms and reserved 1/4 cup bacon fat in large bowl to coat. Sprinkle mushrooms with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms, rounded side down, in single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake mushrooms until centers fill with liquid, about 25 minutes. Turn mushrooms over. Bake mushrooms until brown and liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes longer. Turn mushrooms over again. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon filling into each mushroom cavity. (Filled mushrooms can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake mushrooms until heated through, about 10 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to platter and serve warm.

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70 comments on gougères + stuffed mushrooms

  1. You used grey salt? Are you going all “It’s not so easy entertaining on me/us? I don’t even know where to find grey salt… Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  2. Mmmmmmmmm…… *drooling* if my party this Saturday goes only half as well, I will be thrilled. MmmmMMmmmMMMmmm I love appetizers/picky food :)

  3. Yumyum. This all looks so amazing – what a spread! I am super excited to hear you describe the Gougères – things my fiance and I formerly knew as “those cheesey fluffy pastry things you can eat by the handful” served at every table before the meal at a local french restaurant. They are so easy to keep eating!

  4. wow, that´s one impressive table right there. I´m adding the mushrooms recipe to my to-cook list. Maybe I´ll even try the gougeres someday cause they look dreamy, but I just don´t picture them topping my chipa roll recipe (chipás are lovely cheese rolls of native Paraguayan-northern Argentina origin made with tapioca and several types of cheese… which I should blog about soon now that I think of it).
    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, the cake looks delicious and totally decadent as well, my waist is forever grateful for not attending such party… my stomach is not! lol

  5. Any single, good looking, independently wealthy men, ages 30-40, in your family? I SO need into that family. (sorry tim, unless you can hook me up with an invite next year)

    What great photos. it’s my goal in the new year to be better about taking pictures of my work.. I did at 1st (5 years ago) but have slacked since.

    Since im blessed to be apart of a family that’s mixed with chanukkah and christmas people i made quite a few of your dishes this year.. and gave a few as gifts.. Ive learned the lemon pund cake and chocolate orange cake ship quite well… Your latkes are better than the 1s my sister makes ( we had a taste test with the family as the judges..sorry sissy.. love you)

    Anyways… Its been a lot of fun reading your blog(s) for the past 3-4 years..Its nice that youre not at all pretentious or snobby and your genuine love for what you do comes through.

    Happy/Merry “whateveryoucelebrate” .

    -Lisa.

    (Side Note: PHC if you’re reading this… Happy Holidays. I miss your musings about life and such in our beloved bay area.. hope The Olive enjoyed her 1st holiday season)

  6. What an amazing spread! I can’t imagine how long it took to prepare if the plating alone tool 4 hours, but by the looks of things, the results were well worth it!

  7. How do you get in-law’s like this, and I get in-laws where you open the fridge to find 2 month old milk and peanut butter that has a “best if used date” of 1/2002? I’m insanely jealous!
    What a beautiful looking spread… so many wonderful things to choose from.

    Great pictures! I have to ask… what do your in-law’s say about you photographing food? I love my in-laws, don’t get me wrong, but they once saw me photographing a meal I had made and had a zillion and one questions!

    Great post!

  8. Wonderful spread! The Gougères look especially wonderful and I’m hoping to make them for the new year’s eve.
    Here in Estonia we make the Napoleon like the Russians, and it’s hugely popular at various parties:)

  9. What a spread! And gougeres! I was just reading another holiday post about gougeres….lil’ balls of goodness and one perfect go-to item for any party. Yum! Photos are lovely, as usual

  10. Thanks everyone.

    Marce – You must tell us about your chipa roll. Sounds cool!

    Kristen – They don’t seem to mind. They like this site.

    Pille – That’s so cool. I’ll have to try my hand at it, one day. I kind of like the crumble on top better than that white icing with chocolate stripes one sees at Italian bakeries.

    Ani – What’s in Puerto Rican gourgeres? I’m itching to make some variations of it. Different cheeses! Maybe some chives?

    Lydia – I’m going to forget like ten things but: Several phyllo pastries, either filled with chicken and potato, potato, cabbage or spinach/feta, spanikopita style. Lots of toasts with butter and caviar. Two types of deviled eggs, one with curry and one with chopped up pickles and dill. Latkes with lox, sour cream and dill. Pickled tomatoes and other vegetables. A goat cheese terrine with pesto and sundried tomatoes. Cheese balls made of feta and cream cheese, rolled in chopped nuts. Mixed marinated mushrooms. A broccoli, dried cranberry and toasted pine nut salad I ate like three servings of. I just got hungry again!

  11. Oh my god, Deb…I’m so picking up and moving to New York so I can crash on you and your family’s parties!

    I agree with Kristen, there’s a totally unfair distribution of cooking skills here. At the same time that you were enjoying this beautiful spread, my step-dad and I were running around trying to extinguish our Christmas prime rib. It was in flames. My mom is not sure how it happened.

    Happy New Year!

  12. lovely spread with gorgeous food!
    wish i was there
    if you want an easy and really unhealthy stuffed mushroom recipe…
    stuff mushrooms with a mixture of crumbly bacon(fake can be used) and cream cheese. brush with butter and broil 3-5 min. or until tops are bubbly
    to die for!!!

  13. Holy moley, that’s a gorgeous spread!

    I have to bring appetizers for a party Sunday night. I’m thinking those gougeres are going to be just the thing.

  14. So strange. I can comment at my work computer but no my personal one.

    Anyway the puerto rican cheese puffs have rice flour, all purpose flour and gouda cheese. Though I don’t know how gouda is a puerto rican cheese?

  15. Deb,
    Great photos! I found this post through the comment you left on my blog about a Russian New Year’s table. A Russian relative of ours who now lives in Germany remarked that his family’s New Year’s spread looked just like ours. Of course, in America there’s Thanksgiving, when everyone eats pretty much the same thing with small variations.

  16. Hi! I keep trying to make gougeres and they NEVER look as pretty as yours. What is your secret? :)

    (I love your site, by the way. I visit all the time. It’s one of my favorites)

    Popcorn

  17. I made those mushrooms for a party last night and they were the biggest hit of the evening. A friend pointed out your site and I’m really grateful! Thanks!

  18. i am just baking the gourgeres now and i am little worried. i doubled the recipe because i am serving a lot of people but i’m not sure if the dough is too heavy or not! ah!

    best food site ever, by the by!!

  19. I’ve been searcing for a good recipe for the gourgeres, and (with the aid of your excellent photographs) is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks for posting.

  20. Hi Deb
    I just tried making these, and well… I don’t know what I did wrong. They came out shaped more like a hamburger patty than a ball… and the bottom of it is hard and burnt. How do you get yours to fluff up into the ball shape – when you push off the tablespoon, are you actually forming it into a ball? Any other ideas?

    Thanks so much – your site is fantastic. And congratulations on the baby.

  21. I had the same experience – mine were more like tiny (flat) biscuits than puffy balls. I made sure I grated the cheese by hand but I used a hand mixer instead of a food processor and my eggs were still cold, instead of closer to room temperature. Could that have made them less fluffy?
    I also used a cookie scoop instead of two spoons because it is exactly 1 T and much easier.
    They were very tasty though. I took some to a wine class and got a few compliments.

  22. I made the gougeres, and they came out quite flat and squashy looking. The dough was very wet after adding the three eggs, and it didn’t seem possible to make it into any shape other than a blob. Also, I may have overdone it on the cheese, which could certainly account for the slump. (My wife always looks at me in puzzlement when I say “too much cheese,” maintaining that that is an impossible condition)

    Everyone loved them, though, to the point of someone even asking for the recipe. I’m so glad I found this site!

  23. Hi, I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your in-laws’ (I’m assuming) recipe for the delectable salmon items on top. I’m looking for a dish like that right now, and I can’t wait to try the gougeres!

  24. I’m hoping to make gougeres this weekend, as I’m a bit obsessed with choux paste right now. You say that box grater shredding worked better than food processor shredding, as it produced a lighter cheese and I’m confused — did you use the big holes on the box grater? I’d think it would produce a bigger (and hence heavier) cheese shred than the food processor. Thanks!

    By the way — I love your website. I consult it before I make anything new, even if I use a recipe from elsewhere, as your and your readers’ discussion of tips and techniques is immensely helpful. And I know I can always trust the recipes you endorse.

    1. Tiny — Thank you. Actually, my food processor creates more coarse bits of cheese on the shredder than my big-hole box grater. I think it is the speed and pressure on the FP that pulls the cheese through faster, while pressure from our hands when hand-grating isn’t so intense.

  25. Hi Deb,

    Thanks for the recipes – I made the stuffed mushrooms several times already, and they are always a big hit with my mushroom-loving boyfriend.

    I attempted the gougere last week, and sadly they didn’t puff up at all. I don’t have a food processor and thus beat everything by hand. Do you think that’s the cause? I wonder if it would make a difference if I tried the hand beater.

  26. Oh my goodness! I made these mushrooms for my mom to take to a party this weekend. They almost didn’t make it out of my house. The smell of these cooking got my sleeping boyfriend out of bed and the man sleeps like the dead! The only way he let them our the door was with a promise from me that I would make them for his birthday next weekend.
    Thank you for the delectable recipes! I have tried a number of your recipes and you have steered me wrong yet.

  27. All this food looks so delicious! I grew up eating Russian Napolean cake, but I’ve always been too scared to try making it. Any chance you have plans to add a Napoleon recipe to the blog?

  28. Hi Deb! I’ve only commented here once, but I stalk you daily. Could you please answer the food processor question? I have two, BUT…they were gifts years ago and one is micro sized, and the other is still too small…(imagine that. when do I get a decent sized one?!) Do we HAVE to use a fp to mix and add air? Im seriously considering trying these for our Christmas Eve party…but if I need the fp I’ll have to do it in really small batches or wait. :( Or can I just beat the heck out of it by hand or stand mixer?

    Thanks!

    1. It’s tough because I’ve only made them in the FP. But I suspect that recipes are all over the web that don’t insist on it. I’m sure the classic technique would be to mix it very well by hand. I’d use one of those other recipes for technique, and use this for the measurements. Good luck!

  29. question: can you freeze the gougeres and then reheat them? fyi: i too have made them by hand (heating them for 5 minutes and continuously stirring the batter) and then after adding the cheese stage, using my hand mixer with the kneading attachment for the last five minutes. amazingly they puffed

  30. I made these by hand and they puffed beautifully … filled them with salmon mousse …. omg they were good.

  31. i’ve made the gougeres twice now with gluten free flour and both times they turned out marvelously. so delicious, these little guys are. i look to your blog whenever i’m having new people over for food and i find a recipe that is absolutely delicious and turns out every time. thank you for the best food blog EVER!

  32. Quick question….could I make the mushrooms Wednesday night to be served Friday afternoon or is that too long to wait? I know your receipe said one day in advance and then I saw another one that said two days in advance. Curious to hear what you think, thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried to make this recipe in advance so I cannot say for sure, however, most stuffed mushrooms can be reheated but they don’t look as great. They lose their water as they cook and start to shrivel and darken a bit once cool.

  33. Deb,

    You’ve never failed me in the past. Your brisket was one of the biggest hits I’ve made and everything else I’ve made from here has been great. My gougeres were soggy in the middle right out of the oven and I followed the recipe exactly because baking scares me. I even watched several youtube videos to get them right. The mushrooms are OK, but not strong on flavor. Do I need to buy something else other than Philadelphia cream cheese and maybe a better quality of feta? I also had twice as much filling as I needed. The mushrooms definitely got smaller after cooking them. I usually just fill them with sharp cheddar and prosciutto and they turn out great. Wish I had done a dry run before Thanksgiving eve.

  34. Made the stuffed mushrooms, my notes: (I forgot the red pepper flakes.) I would change the cooking method and ratio of things in the stuffing. Definitely high on flavor, I could do with less bacon (even though I love the stuff) next time. I used fresh spinach because they were out of frozen at the store, and chopped it then threw it in with the onion to cook it down. Don’t let the onion cool– I put the hot onion/spinach combo in with the feta/cream cheese combo and the heat helped to melt the feta and cream cheese into a smooth stuffing. Also, don’t need to cook the mushrooms for so long– I did a total of 20 min, flipping half way through and that was more than enough time. Actually, too much time if you ask me. By the end some of my mushrooms were looking wrinkly from too much cooking. In the end a valiant effort that everyone at the Super Bowl party appreciated, but wouldn’t do again because of the level of work required for these little flavor-packed bites.

  35. I am going to try to make the dough a day ahead of time and put it on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, refrigetate, and bake the next day after bringing back to room temperature. I want to have the gougeres as a part of a big table of things but need to see if I can do in advance and bake next day fresh for the event. I will let you know.

  36. Did you like the look of the grey salt, or does it taste different? I looked at it and didn’t buy it; i just didn’t want my beautiful golden brown puffs to have that on top of them… I bought pink instead: dreamy! What do you think, would the grey have tasted better?

    1. Hi Becky — You can store them for a couple days at room temperature or a freezer for longer. But, you’ll want to rewarm them on a tray so that they get delicious and airy again.

  37. Hi Deb,

    I’ve been lurking here for more years than I care to admit, and have made several dishes which I love (and got your cookbook for Christmas!). I’m assigning this to someone else for a dinner next weekend, and don’t see a yield for the Gougeres – about how many does the recipe make?
    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  38. I am engaged to a russian so i deff understand the feeling of going to big family events and not understanding a word! and i love your food! [=

  39. Hi Deb! I have made your Black pepper and Blue cheese gougeres from your cookbook and I was wondering, how long/at what temperature do you reheat the frozen (already cooked) gougeres?

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

  40. Planning on making both these recipes for a party with 50-60 people and was wondering how many gougeres this recipe yields, approximately? Is it double-able or should I make separate batches? many thanks, love this site!

  41. My kitchen smells so good right now, but the little balls just melted into wee puddles in the oven. I followed the recipe to a T. We’ll call them…”cheese biscuits.” Problem solved! PS. I cook from your blog all the time. Thanks for all the noms, Deb!

  42. i made the blue cheese gougeres for christmas eve – amazing flavour! but not as “perky” as yours. the batter was pretty runny and they poofed up a little, but stayed pretty flat. one less egg? cook them for longer? i would love to try them again for new years… thanks!

  43. Hi Deb! I just made the blue cheese gougeres out of your cookbook! They are cooling on the tray as I type. They smell and taste wonderful but like some other commeters, they failed to really poof. Any ideas on how to trouble shoot? I live in hot and humid Atlanta and have a sneaking suspicion I may be doomed by my climate.

    Thanks for any and all advice, and for your beautiful cookbook :)

  44. I made your blue cheese gougeres from your book but they don’t look like yours.
    They are meringue like and very eggy.
    It doesn’t have the consistency of pastry or biscuits
    You could eat 20 of them and not know it but the thing is I don’t want to because I don’t get much flavor. It’s almost like they need baking soda/powder or something.

    I’m going to make either your red wine chocolate velvet cake or your peach bourbon dumplings. Hope I have better luck!

  45. I made these as is, except for the using salt at the end. They were VERY popular. It took almost ten minutes for me to get all that sticky dough out of the food processor, so I didn’t wait an additional ten minutes to start spooning out the dough. Mine didn’t take 30 minutes, more like 25 after switching the trays top to bottom and front to back after ten minutes (maybe my oven runs a little hot….). I looked at quite a few recipes for gougeres with varying numbers of eggs and trusted Deb…..And Pierre!